Tuesday November 12, 2019

Koshur language – Carrying forward Kashmiri culture

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By Harshmeet Singh

There aren’t many better examples of India’s diverse culture than its linguistic diversity. The country is home to 780 languages with over 120 of them holding the ‘official’ status. But the other side of the story is that India currently heads the list of UNESCO’s world’s languages in danger. The constitution, in its eighth schedule, lists 22 languages as the official regional languages in the country. This series of articles is an attempt to focus on these 22 languages, their pasts and present, and cherish our linguistic diversity. After discussing about Assamese and Bodo in the previous write-ups, today, we shift our focus towards the Kashmiri language or Koshur.

Popularly known as Koshur, the Kashmiri language has over 5 and a half million speakers in India, with most of them residing in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The language is also spoken by over 1 lakh people in Pakistan, most of whom migrated to the country from the Kashmir valley. Kashmiri is one of the most prominent Dardic languages.

koshur table

In fact, Sir George Abraham Grierson, the Irish civil servant who conducted the Linguistic Survey of India, famously wrote, “Kashmiri is the only one of the Dardic languages that has a literature”. He also said that the Kashmiri language is “an essential preliminary to any inquiry”.

Last year, with an aim to preserve Kashmiri language and culture, the Jammu Kashmir Cultural Confederation was formed after more than 50 small organizations carrying a similar aim came together. Well known poet and the Jnanpith award winner, Prof Rehman Rahi was appointed the chief patron of the confederation while acclaimed writer Ghulam Nabi Khayal came on board as the patron.

Kashmiri was first introduced as a medium of instruction in schools in the 1950s. But it was soon banished owing to an inelegant script. As a result, like most other regional languages in the country, Kashmiri has also witnessed a steep decline in popularity over the past several decades. To arrest the decreasing popularity, the state of J&K made the language a compulsory subject in all the schools of the state till the secondary level in November 2008.

Kashmir’s modern history has been burdened by conflicts. A number of locals in the state of J&K also accuse the central Government of neglecting the state’s indigenous culture. Maybe by helping in preserving Koshur and the Kashmiri culture in the state, the Government would be able to convince them that it wishes nothing but the best for them.

 

To read more in this series –

Bodo Sahitya Sabha – Trying to revive the language

Assamese – a bright spot in Indian regional languages scene

 

Next Story

Gallery Dedicated for Disabled Indian Artists gets Inaugurated at UNESCO House

Enabling the participation of persons with disabilities in artistic and cultural life is a key priority for UNESCO

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To honour the talent of artists with disability, the first edition of 'Discovering Ability' art awards was also organised by Youth4Jobs Foundation, with UNESCO and HSBC. Wikimedia Commons

As part of an inclusive initiative, a temporary art gallery titled ‘Not Just Art’, dedicated to Indian artists with disabilities, was inaugurated by union minister G. Kishan Reddy at UNESCO Cluster House here on Monday.

The unique gallery has over 125 paintings done by disabled artists across 15 Indian states, and showcases their amazing talent with colour and form.

It will be open for public viewing on November 5-7 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., UNESCO said.

To honour the talent of artists with disability, the first edition of ‘Discovering Ability’ art awards was also organised by Youth4Jobs Foundation, with UNESCO and HSBC.

The award celebrates the artistic abilities of persons with disability, who have hitherto remained a largely unrecognised talent pool.

The artists were awarded with a cash prize of Rs 50,000. They are Amrit Khurana and Rohit Anand, both autistic artists; Mallika Khaneja, an artist affected by cerebral palsy; Y. Raghavendran, an artist with speech and hearing impairment; Niral Hareshbhai Swati, an artist with intellectual disability; Mohammed Yasar who participated in the Paralympic Art World Cup in 2019; and Durgesh Kumar Rathore, an artist with dyslexia and bibliophobia.

“Enabling the participation of persons with disabilities in artistic and cultural life is a key priority for UNESCO. (The initiative adds to) disability-focused interventions in India. It signals our commitment to empower persons with disabilities to become both mainstream consumers and producers of art forms.,” Eric Falt, UNESCO Director, New Delhi said.

UNESCO
As part of an inclusive initiative, a temporary art gallery titled ‘Not Just Art’, dedicated to Indian artists with disabilities, was inaugurated by union minister G. Kishan Reddy at UNESCO Cluster House. Pixabay

“If it’s the tag of just an artist, it would hardly get noticed. If we say disabled artist, people will still sit up and take notice. The awards feels like a great recognition,” Aarti Khurana, the mother of an autistic artist Amrit Khurana told IANS.

The jury was a panel of three eminent judges from the Department of Fine Arts, Sarojini Naidu College of Arts and Communication, Hyderabad, UNESCO said.

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As per Youth4Jobs head Meera Shenoy, said the initiative will also help artists develop market linkages, and they will continue to sell art online and through museums under the ‘Not Just Art’ platform. (IANS)